Date: Thu, 25 Dec 1997 13:40:06 -0500
Subject: textual unity of Mk?


It seems to me that the assumption of textual unity of Mk, or of other
Gospels, is a matter of pure faith with very little basis in reality. That
so many scholars are assuming this is to be regretted. 

Glaring problems with identifying the original ending of Mk is a good item
to consider for starters. In his HISTORICAL JESUS (p. 411), Crossan quotes
this from Bruce Metzger: 

"Four endings of the Gospel according to Mark are current in the

Is this alone not indicative of many stages of editing, and of many forms
which Mk may have had in the earliest period?

Also, Crossan cites this on p. 425 from Koester:

"The problems for the reconstruction of the textual history of the
canonical Gospels in the first century of transmission are immense. The
assumption that the reconstruction of the best archetype for the
manuscript tradition is more or less identical with the assumed autograph
is precarious. The oldest known archetypes are separated from the
autographs by more than a century. Textual critics of classical texts know
that the first century of their transmission is the period on which the
most serious corruptions occur. Textual critics of the NT writings have
been surprisingly naive in this respect".

This Koester quote came from:

    TITLE: Gospel traditions in the second century : origins,   
               recensions, text, and transmission / studies by  
               Barbara Aland ... [et al.] ; William L. Petersen,
               editor. --                                       
PUBLISHED: Notre Dame, Ind. : University of Notre Dame Press,   

included in this volume, Koester presents the theory that our best
evidence for early text of Mk comes precisely from the quotations from Mk
that are included in Mt and/or Lk. Where Mt or Lk versions of these
passages disagree with our canonical Mk, there precisely we are likely to
find the early version of Mk text that was later changed because of
additional editing. In other words, "the minor agreements" of Mt and Lk
against Mk are our important clues to the original shape of Mk. This
theory makes a lot of sense to me,

And here's another quote from the above article by Koester:

"NT textual critics have been deluded by the hypothesis that the
archetypes of the textual tradition which were fixed ca. 200 CE -- and how
many archetypes for each Gospel? -- are (almost) identical with the
autographs. This cannot be confirmed by any external evidence. On the
contrary, whatever evidence there is indicates that not only minor, but
also substantial revisions of the original texts have occurred during the
first hundred years of the transmission." (p. 37)

Merry Christmas, all!

Best regards,


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